A digital petition demanding Tulane University administrators reverse their decision to host TV star Hoda Kotb as commencement speaker this spring was mysteriously shut down Wednesday, but the debate over her credentials continued online Thursday.
The New Orleans university announced earlier this week that Kotb, a co-host of the “Today” show on NBC who spent six years as a reporter in the city in the 90s, had been selected as the keynote speaker for the college's May 14 graduation ceremony. “Who doesn't love Hoda?” Tulane President Mike Fitts said in a statement Monday.
Apparently, some students didn't. A petition went live shortly after the news broke arguing that “we deserve better than this” given the time and money invested into their Tulane education, the Tulane Hullabaloo reported. The cost of attendance for a freshman resident attending Tulane for the 2016-2017 school year is about $67,000.
The petition acknowledged Kotb's journalism career but ultimately demanded a more prestigious speaker. Tulane commencement speakers in recent years have included the Dalai Lama, Anderson Cooper, Ellen DeGeneres and former President George H.W. Bush, according to its website.
"Commencement speeches are supposed to inspire students before they are thrown into the real world. Hoda Kotb spends her time sipping wine on talk shows and discussing which dog breed is trendiest in 2016," the request read. "This is an embarassment [sic] not only to the entire class of 2016 but also to the school as a whole."
About 260 people signed the petition before it was taken down. All the title text was deleted and replaced with "L," while all the body text was removed and replaced with "k."
The discussion wasn't over in the comments and on social media, though. Users were writing Thursday that the people behind the petition were "ungrateful spoiled brats" who "haven't gotten over their sad high school issues." Others raised the points that Kotb had survived breast cancer and covered Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War, the Hayride reported.
lolz that Tulane students are complaining about Hoda Kotb as commencement speaker
— one subtraction (@__mvs) March 14, 2016
— eLc (@Emily_Bleu) March 16, 2016
— fun guy (@funlaidbackguy) March 15, 2016
Meanwhile, the Hullabaloo discovered another petition starting to make the rounds: One requesting Kotb be replaced by wrestler John Cena. It had about 80 signatures Thursday. “Nothing against the current speaker,” it read, then added: “The only better commencement speaker than Cena would be God.”